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VA Secretary Shinseki On "Thin Ice"; Ex-NFL Star Pleads Not Guilty To Double Murder; Brad Pitt Hit In Face During Premier; Remembering Maya Angelou

Aired May 29, 2014 - 07:30   ET




UNIDENTIFEID MALE: Look at yourself in the mirror and shave in the morning and not throw up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's unforgivable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a question about destruction of documents and you don't even know who did it or their motive.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Lawmakers ripping into the VA and the man at the head of it. Meanwhile, Secretary Eric Shinseki also speaking out in an op-ed in the "USA Today". He calls the findings of a new report reprehensible. It confirms 1,700 patients at the VA medical center in Phoenix were not placed on an official wait list for treatment. The White House now saying Shinseki is on thin ice as more lawmakers, including Democrats, are calling for Shinseki's resignation.

This is a big political story now. John King is off but that doesn't mean it's not a story, so we're going to bring in retired VA hospital physician, the whistle-blower who first told CNN about workers covering up long delays at VA hospitals, Dr. Sam Foote. Doctor, thank you very much for joining us.

DR. SAMUEL FOOTE, VA WHISTLEBLOWER: Good morning, Chris. Thanks for having me.

CUOMO: First question, you have been there a long time. You've known the situation a long time. When you look at the lawmakers, many of them are long time serving Congress. Many of them sit on the Veterans Affairs Committee. Do you think they have good reason to be shocked by these revelations the way they're posing?

FOOTE: Yes, I think so. You know, in 2010 in Phoenix we had a waiting times -- real waiting times between one and three weeks. And it's really gone south in the last three or four years and to a level that in my 23 years we've never been this far behind.

CUOMO: OK, so it is fair analysis to say the VA has had its struggles over the years, but it has gotten worse and that is a recent phenomenon in your opinion?

FOOTE: In the last couple of years, yes, and it's due to a multitude of factors.

CUOMO: Now when you first came out there was pushback. I heard it. Other reporters heard it. Sam Foote is disgruntled. He is exaggerating it. We think a lot of people on the list that he's talking about their deaths will be unrelated. Did that scare you? Did that make you think about backing off?

FOOTE: No, I knew the truth on this. I had it cold. This is not the first time I've worked to get a director moved for cause. The first time was Gabrielle Perez in 2011. I made sure I had three to five times more evidence than I needed and this was the same was true here as well. And I'm a big boy. I've been in the system a long time. I knew the pushback was going to come.

And it's still kind of hard to take it when you get it, but that's part of the decision you make when you do something like this. You know, it's automatic in the VA. They're going to slander you and make quite a few things, comments that are against the whistle-blower act. But that's just how they do business in the VA.

CUOMO: The 1,700 big number, 42 hospitals is a big number. Do you think we know the extent of it yet or should we be in store for bigger numbers?

FOOTE: I think that this is going to continue to snowball. And the closer that people look at it you're going to find the more, you know, hospitals that are involved. You've already got a quarter of the system. And I think Shinseki's first comment was this is a few isolated incidents. This is not a few isolated incidences.

CUOMO: Is he covering up? Is it CYA or do you think he's acting off of information as he gets it?

FOOTE: Well, clearly at the last hearing Petzel withheld a lot of information from because he got blind-sided repetitively. You know, if the under leans are suppressing information and keeping it from him then that puts him in a very tough spot.

CUOMO: Do you blame the secretary? Does he have to go? If you say this is relatively recent, that it's gotten this bad that means it's definitely under his watch, what does it make you say?

FOOTE: Well, I'm really not so much into playing the blame game. I would much rather prefer that we work hard to try to identify what the problems are and get them fixed. And do that first. You know, we always used to say in medicine, take care of the patients first, do the paperwork second. And I don't want that focus to be lost.

CUOMO: Fair point. Fair point. And a good reminder. Thank you for that, Doctor. So let's look at the VA. Do you believe that these are problems that are endemic in health care in general or do you think there is something specific about the VA that is feeding this failure to care? FOOTE: Well, kind of to some extent yes to both. There is going to be a shortage of internists and primary care providers. And that's very -- the reasons for that are complex. I don't have time to go through that. But the VA is facing that as are all the other health care networks with the physician supply. And I think the VA is kind of on the bottom of the food chain when it comes to the pay scale for the difficulty of the work involved. I think they're suffering first.

CUOMO: We are understanding that VA hospitals had the option or administrators had the option to farm outpatients to the private sector if they couldn't handle the workload and they weren't doing that. What's your understanding of why they wouldn't be doing that?

FOOTE: That's an extremely tedious process. It requires primary care providers to put in specific consults for a certain amount of work, like one visit for evaluation and if they want to do something like surgery or some other procedure, if it can be done by the VA then it has to be done at the VA and then you have to get the report back to the outside guy for him to make the next decision on it.

And it's a very expensive procedure. So it's usually not within the budget. It's been historically in the past used for a place like Phoenix, for instance, neurosurgery. We don't offer cardiovascular surgery but Tucson does. So we can get most of our elected cases to Tucson, but all the urgent have to be sent out.

When you lose a service like we have urology, then it starts to become very expensive. And to fee base out the number of patients we're talking about, you know, we currently probably have somewhere between 10,000 and 15,000 patients that do not have primary care providers.

Mr. Young, I think, recognized that when he said that he was going to increase from 61 teams to 70 and currently I know there can't be more than 60 pack teams because I have yet to be replaced in the five months I have been gone. And if you look at the average team sizes, 1,200 patients times 10 new providers that would provide treatment for 12,000 veterans, which is probably about the number that we have uncovered right now.

CUOMO: Look, it's good to hear that from you because that means it's not as simple as that being the fix, which is what we're hearing from lawmakers right now. They can just farm it out and it will be better in the private sector. It's not that simple.

FOOTE: Well, the -- if I can get on that. The VA does a very good job of chronic care and things like controlling diabetes and hypertension. Where it falls down is urgent and emergency care and especially where in sparsely populated areas. And that's where something like a Vetacare system that -- a Vetacare card that Senator McCain has been pushing that would be valuable especially for people in remote areas where it's hard to find any hospital that's appropriate, let alone a VA one.

CUOMO: Dr. Sam Foote, thank you for coming forward. We have to get lawmakers to act on it instead of just complain about it. Appreciate you being on NEW DAY. FOOTE: Thank you very much, Chris.

CUOMO: Mich, the good news is the doctor has been vindicated by the reports. The bad news is, his information was right. Got to fix the system.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Absolutely. And that couldn't come soon enough. Chris, thanks so much for that great interview. We appreciate it.

Let's take a look at your headlines at 37 minutes past the hour. NSA leaker Edward Snowden speaking out and defending his actions. Snowden telling NBC News he was doing his patriotic duty leaking classified documents that expose government surveillance programs. He said being a patriot means knowing when to protect your country and your constitution. He's been living in Russia on temporary asylum, but claims has no ties to the Putin government.

Iranian hackers are reportedly behind an elaborate campaign using social networks to get information from military, government, and diplomatic officials here in the U.S. and abroad. A new report from a U.S. cyber security firm says the group posed as journalists and used fake web sites. The firm says it's not clear if the hackers worked directly for the Iranian government.

All right, going to show you some video that is sure to spark some debate. Take a look. Dean Potter took his 4-year-old dog Whisper along for a jump on the side of Iger Mountain in Switzerland. He was well secured on his owner's backpack. You saw his goggles. Whisper is believed to be the first dog to go base jumping. Here is our question. Funny, cute, cruel, amazing?

CUOMO: Look at it attacking his face.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Animals in space.

PEREIRA: Good point. Very good point, Baldwin. Cuomo?

CUOMO: How did he get his legs out that far?

BOLDUAN: In a backpack.

CUOMO: The dog seemed to like it.

BOLDUAN: How can you tell?

PEREIRA: Did you ask the dog?

CUOMO: Did you see how happy he was?

BOLDUAN: Pulling his cheeks back like you with your windows down with your head out.

CUOMO: Actually landed, you crazy monkey.

BOLDUAN: Sorry. CUOMO: I don't have a problem with it.

BOLDUAN: I think we have reached a non-conclusion conclusion.

PEREIRA: I don't know. I just am like, really?

BOLDUAN: You wouldn't take your dog?

PEREIRA: We should be doing this?

BOLDUAN: There you go.

PEREIRA: I think this is crazy. People have lost their lives.

CUOMO: You're subjecting the pet to a hazard that it can't control.

PEREIRA: Absolutely. Thank you for saying it so eloquently.

CUOMO: It's the vest.

PEREIRA: That's what it is. Anyway, tweet us, Facebook. I'm curious what you guys think. Dog lovers, space jumpers.

BOLDUAN: Where is your watch? Where is your Monocle?

CUOMO: I feel much smarter there.

BOLDUAN: You've got an hour and a half left of that.

CUOMO: After the baby I'm going to strap you to my back and we're going to jump out in a wing suit.

BOLDUAN: He does the standard.

CUOMO: I love the baby. I love the baby. What? The baby comes first.

BOLDUAN: You don't love me though.

CUOMO: Get used to it. Baby comes first.

BOLDUAN: Michaela?

Coming up next on NEW DAY, former NFL star, Aaron Hernandez, now a murder suspect on trial. The disturbing story behind what prosecutors say motivated him to kill two men in Boston. That's ahead.

Plus, Brad Pitt gets a big hit in the face at Angelina Jolie's big movie premier and the suspect is not new to the red carpet stunts. How is he getting past security?


BOLDUAN: This morning we're hearing for the very first time why prosecutors say former NFL star, Aaron Hernandez, opened fire killing two men on a Boston street back in 2012. Hernandez who is also charged in a third murder appeared in court Wednesday pleading not guilty to two charges of first degree murder. Susan Candiotti has been following it. She has the details.


SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Prosecutors call it a chance encounter among strangers that ended in a double murder over a spilled drink in a Boston nightclub.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was an entirely senseless killing.

CANDIOTTI: While dancing, investigators say Daniel Abreu accidentally bumps into then New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez who spills his drink.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The defendant became angered and increasingly agitated.

CANDIOTTI: Hernandez is accused of stalking the young man and his four friends after leaving the bar and shooting from his SUV into their car.

PATRICK HAGGAN, SUFFOLK COUNTY ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY: The defendant leaned out of the driver's side window of the SUV with a loaded revolver in his hand extended out and stated, Yo, what's up now, and then a racial slur. The defendant immediately fired at least five rounds from a .38-caliber revolver into the victim's car.

CANDIOTTI: Abreu and his friends, Safiro Furtado were killed. Three of their friends survived.

HAGGAN: The defendant and his friend were escorted into the nightclub.

CANDIOTTI: Relatives sobbed, listening to details. The man with Hernandez that night, in court papers he's identified as Alexander Bradley, not currently charged in this case, he's jailed on an unrelated charge. Prosecutors say that friend told them Hernandez was enraged over that spilled drink and convinced the stranger who bumped him was, quote, "trying him." The SUV Hernandez is suspected of driving was later found covered in cobwebs at his cousin's house, but not until after the murder of Odin Lloyd about a year later. Hernandez pleaded not guilty in that case and in this one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you plea? Not guilty.

CANDIOTTI (on camera): Prosecutors and other law enforcement sources say Hernandez was growing more and more paranoid leading up to the double murder in Boston and later Odin Lloyd.

(voice-over): Yet, it never seemed to effect his game. Susan Candiotti, CNN, Boston.


CUOMO: Our thanks to Susan Candiotti. And now in Hollywood, a red carpet crasher attacking Brad Pitt. The star hit in the face while signing autographs during the premier of "Maleficent." That's his fiancee, Angelina Jolie's big summer movie. It turns out the 25-year-old suspect has a history of confronting A- listers. Entertainment correspondent, Nischelle Turner, has the skinny on it. Who is this guy?

NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: He's really ramped it up since 2012. He is. This is a question, though, because now we're talking about security. It seems like the more they try to keep this man out, the more he finds ways to get in and get close to the stars. This time though police say he actually physically attacked Brad Pitt.

It did happen last night at the "Maleficent" premier. Brad Pitt was in the crowd of fans. He was signing autographs before he walked the red carpet like a lot of celebrities do at premiers. When witnesses say this man, 25-year-old Vitalii Sediuk, jumped over the barrier, struck Brad Pitt in the face. Security did move in.

He was arrested but not before he did smacked or punched or whatever he did to Brad Pitt. This isn't the first time. If his name sounds familiar it's because he's tried to establish himself as a red carpet crasher. He's probably best known for this. Remember this? Back in 2012. He was on the red carpet when he could still get a credential. He grabbed Will Smith. Tried to kiss him there twice. Not once but twice. Will Smith pushed him away. Gave him a backhanded slap.

CUOMO: Turned his cheek first though.

TURNER: Backhand, dismissive slap. This man says he means no harm. He comes back after the fact and says, I was just, you know, being funny and --

PEREIRA: Hitting in the face isn't funny.

TURNER: But a lot of people don't find this funny. You punch someone, that's not funny. He was arrested again last night. He has been booked with misdemeanor battery. But here's the thing, we showed that video of Brad Pitt before. Remember, just walking past. That was after this all happened.

CUOMO: Did he punch him or maybe he just did something short of that that's more pranky, less crazed violent person.

TURNER: Well, police did say to us last night that he struck Brad Pitt. They didn't say he punched or slapped but that he struck him.

BOLDUAN: Same person that was crawling under her dress?

TURNER: Yes, same guy in Cannes a couple weeks ago. He did that. The same guy that crashed the stage at the Grammys in 2013 when Adele won and jumped on the mic when Jennifer Lopez was standing there, the same guy that grabbed Leonardo Dicaprio.

BOLDUAN: Find a day job. TURNER: This is becoming his, but they need to make an example of him.

BOLDUAN: You have something else for us.

TURNER: It's Thursday. I haven't seen you guys in a while.

CUOMO: We miss you.

TURNER: Can we have a little family bonding time. You know, like family game night.


TURNER: That's what we're going to do.

BOLDUAN: Trivial pursuit, not.

TURNER: We're staying with Hollywood though. I want to give you guys a little quiz because, of course, here at CNN we are kicking off a newer series called "The Sixties." We're going to play our NEW DAY version of name that tune. Ready for this? The theme to this TV show, roll it.

BOLDUAN: This is my decade, people,'60s.

CUOMO: Bewitched.

BOLDUAN: Sabrina. Cheater. He's a cheater. There is no way he got that in three little pings.

CUOMO: "Bewitched." Power of the vest.

BOLDUAN: It's not power of the vest.

CUOMO: "Bewitched." Don't hate, imitate.

CUOMO: No, that's -- you're supposed to wait until after the break.

CUOMO: "Bewitched." They hate to lose and I love to win.

BOLDUAN: Chris cheated, shocker. America, this is how he got ahead in life. Everyone gets to try the nose. Do the nose.

TURNER: Nose wiggle?

BOLDUAN: Yes, nose wiggle. Chris can move his head. That's actually quite unique.

CUOMO: That was good. You look like you've got an itch. Let's see what you've got. You look most like her. You look like you're going to sneeze.

TURNER: While we're wiggling our noses, I want to tell you guys a little bit more about this incredible decade. As I've mentioned, we've got this new original series that premiers tonight at 9:00 p.m. While they chatter, Eastern and Pacific right here on CNN. Also, you can set your DVR if you can't watch it tonight because of course we can do that these days. Couldn't do that in the '60s. You can go to and check all of it out.

BOLDUAN: It was a good decade for me.

TURNER: I will wiggle my nose and make you disappear, cheater.

CUOMO: I didn't cheat. Looks at the haters.

Later in the next hour, the man, the legend, '60s icon Dick Cavitt, he could wear a vest very well also, by the way, he joins NEW DAY with a look at the new series so please join us for that.

BOLDUAN: Coming up next on NEW DAY, also ahead remembering a literary icon, poet and activist, Maya Angelou, touched so many people, from all walks of life, former presidents, superstars and all of us. We'll bring you the movie tribute to the legend coming up in moments.


PEREIRA: Good to have you back with us here on NEW DAY. This morning, we are taking a special moment to remember, Dr. Maya Angelou, the iconic author and poet who passed away Wednesday morning at her home in North Carolina at age 86. Her powerful words offered solace and inspiration to so very many of us.

CNN asked you to share your own tributes of Dr. Angelou. CNN I- Reporter, Clay Gonzalez of New Jersey remembered Angelou by reading his favorite quotations.


MAYA ANGELOU: If you get, give. If you learn, teach. We all lack knowledge and wisdom, so why not share the one that you have.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Words of inspiration from the great Maya Angelou. Thank you.


PEREIRA: If you get, give. If you learn, teach. I like that. I- Reporter Angela Anderson of Norcross, Georgia says that she first found Angelou's writing as a 10-year-old girl and it helped her deal with a negative self-image.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As a child growing up with these features, Dr. Maya Angelou gave me comfort in my skin. She made me feel like it was absolutely OK to live in the skin that I'm in.


PEREIRA: What an impact, finally, I-Reporter, Adrian Shawn from Detroit got emotional speaking from the heart about the huge impact Angelou had on her life.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, Maya Angelou, for making a positive impact on my life, for teaching me to love myself, to never be silenced about things that are wrong that you see going on in the world, and just for having the courage to be you. I hope you rest in peace. Thanks.


PEREIRA: Kate and Chris, just a little taste of the impact that Dr. Angelou's life and he words and her works and her activism and her own story. I think that's what's been impactful, is her story.

BOLDUAN: She just talked about the courage of being you. You talk about it. Her story is remarkable in how she took what she was handed and made such an unbelievable and phenomenal life out of it and inspired so many. Never bad to take a moment to honor that.

CUOMO: It's so hard to pick what thought or what set of words -- you keep hearing here are her 10 best quotes, 20 best quotes. Her words will live on.

Coming up on NEW DAY, a major development in Flight 370 search. Those pings originally suspected to be from the plane's black boxes. Now they're saying I guess they aren't because we can't find the black boxes. Are we back at square one? Details at the top of the hour.